BC towns near the Alberta border face trade challenges over pandemic travel advisories – fr

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BC towns near the Alberta border face trade challenges over pandemic travel advisories – fr


Jennifer Coffman didn’t expect to be hit by a double whammy at her restaurant in the small community of Field just west of the Alberta-British Columbia border this year.

Coffman has been running Truffle Pigs Bistro and Lodge for 12 years.

Field, with a population of just under 200, sits along the Trans-Canada Highway, about 10 kilometers from the Alberta border, and is pretty much dependent on tourism.

COVID-19 seriously curtailed international visits last year, so Coffman shut down for a few months. She expected things to improve this year. But things are tough again with a nearby section of the Trans-Canada Highway closed for construction this spring and fall, and Albertans being urged by the BC government not to travel to the province. as the pandemic continues.

“I just keep going back to the Monty Python (movie scene) ‘Not Dead Yet’ and the guy has his arms and legs all cut off,” Coffman said.

“I don’t know how many legs and arms I was able to cut before I shut myself up, take a deep breath and gear up when it’s time.”

Coffman said Albertans made up about 80% of business last year and about 50% before the pandemic.

“We rely on the Calgarians so much, don’t we?” Especially through this. Albertans are a huge part of the reason we survive, ”Coffman said.

“Last summer was OK. I thought, “I have to count my lucky stars. I can stay open. But… this second is difficult.

A spokeswoman for the BC RCMP said technically the border is not closed and there will be no screening.

“There are no restrictions preventing people from coming from Alberta,” said the Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet.

“If people come from Alberta and go to a health region, they have to stay in that health region and can’t go any further.

Shoihet said any trip to British Columbia should be considered essential.

“Please do not come to our province. Stay in your own province unless it is for essential travel.

” Stay at home. We love you, but stay home. “

The quaint resort town of Fernie in southeastern British Columbia, less than an hour from the border, hopes Albertans keep coming this summer.

Brad Parsell, executive director of the Fernie Chamber of Commerce, says the community depends on visitors to Alberta.

“Fernie might as well be in Alberta for all intents and purposes. We depend on Albertans, obviously in the tourism industry, but in our economy in general, ”he said.

“It has been extremely difficult for the tourism industry not to offer the welcome mat to these people at this time.”

Parsell said tours from Alberta likely accounted for 70 to 80 percent of total revenue.

“It’s a big hunk… for sure,” Parsell said.

“These are not just arbitrary numbers. These are people’s livelihoods and their lives. “

Business remains slow at the Fernie Hotel and Pub, but manager Alicia Dennis said part of that could be blamed on bad weather and restrictions on dining inside.

She said visitors from Alberta and Saskatchewan were a saving grace last summer.

“We have certainly noticed a big increase in the number of people from Saskatchewan and Alberta coming here for vacation. It was definitely one of our busiest summers I’ve seen so far.

In Montana, the closure of the border between Canada and the United States is hurting the economy of Browning, a town on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

“A lot of our revenue for the local casino comes from the people of Lethbridge, Alta.… Because we are a border town right next to the Canadian border,” said spokesperson James McNeely.

“I think the state of Montana has seen some impact from the lack of Canadian visitors. We no longer see these plaques.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 8, 2021.

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